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January 2, 2023updated 05 Apr 2023 7:57am

20 ways to explain cloud computing to a five-year-old

The definitive definition of ‘The Cloud’ of cloud computing, from the experts for the kids (and adults, too).

By Duncan Macrae

The concept of cloud computing has multiple layers to it, as it is the supply of computer services over the Internet. It includes storage, databases, software, analytics and intelligence.

The definition, however, is a bit more complex than that. It should also include the way it works and why cloud computing is important.

2d rendering of the concept of cloud computing on a blue background
Cloud computing is one of the most vital concepts in tech. Image: Blackboard/Shutterstock

But how can cloud computing be simplified enough for a five-year-old to understand it? Tech Monitor wanted to find out too.

What is the best way to explain cloud computing to a five-year-old?

Here’s what the experts had to say about cloud computing. Now, all children can understand this concept. And perhaps some adults too.

Richard Davies, CEO, Elastichosts

“Once upon a time, everyone’s computers used to feed off a box in their office, but the more and more we used, the more boxes we needed, until there was no room for people anymore! Now there is a man called Mr Cloud who lives in the sky and looks after all the boxes for us; Mr Cloud has magic powers which means he can give people the exact amount of power they need, whenever they need it and from wherever they need it!”

Founder of CloudView, James Wickes

“Clouds are really safe places where we keep all our important information so that we can quickly and easily access it from anywhere under the sun with an iPhone, iPad or computer. When we have used the information we can store it safely back in the clouds.”

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Simon Antoniou, operations manager at Evercom

“Cloud Computing is the Internet’s baby. If the Internet was God, then Cloud is Jesus and he has risen to create a common ground and level playing field for small businesses, business people and entrepreneurs trying to compete with the big boys.”

Bengt Höjer, cloud manager, UNIT

“Cloud computing is like electricity, but instead of plugging into the wall to receive the power you plug into the Internet to receive computing services, with both you only pay for what you use.”

Izak Oosthuizen, MD of Exec Sys

“With the cloud, you can use a whole load of technologies directly from the internet in the same way that you access games like Minecraft!”

Atchison Frazer, CMO at Kemp Technologies

“The Cloud is just like air – you can’t see it or touch it, or live without it – always available to consume when you need it.”

Ralf Ebbinghaus, CEO at Swyx

“It’s a bit like using a library in the sky where you pick from different types of games, films or any other apps and pays for those you use – but like a library you never own them.”

Lee Novall, CTO Fusion Media Networks

“Cloud” computing is like a transforming robot; you can change it to do what you need when you need it, and it’s a very cool toy!”

David Ellis, director of Strategy, Arrow ECS UK

“Cloud computing allows you to access games, apps, photos and more, at any time, on any device via an Internet browser.”

Paul Evans, MD of Redstor

“Cloud computing is IT delivered as a service rather than as a product, like watching movies on Netflix or Sky rather than buying them all on DVD or Blu-Ray.”

Danny Major, Managing Architect, Strategic Systems, Adapt

“Cartoons are made by someone like Cartoon Network (the Service Provider) and then beamed to TVs around the world i.e. made centrally in one place and then sent to the devices that tune in so they can view the programme.”

Ashley Unitt, CTO at NewVoiceMedia

“Cloud computing is the stuff that makes Google and Facebook work. It’s having lots of computers working together when you need them, shared between everyone.”

Sean McAvan, MD at NaviSite

“When you post a picture on Facebook, where is it kept? Just as you can’t see rain in clouds, we can’t see where the pictures, videos and messages that we upload live.

The answer: ‘the cloud‘. Cloud is used to describe groups of computers, around the world, that store this content, and securely connect it to our own computers and mobile phones so that we can access them quickly and easily.
Businesses use these places to store their information because they have lots of space, and the people who own the computers look after them to make sure we don’t lose our information.”

Gary Newe, Technical Director, F5 Networks

“Imagine being able to have an infinite supply of Lego, when you need all the pieces to build your latest masterpiece they are there but when you no longer need them, they are gone, wherever you are in the world…”

Kalyan Kumar, SVP & Chief Technologist, HCL Technologies

Cloud computing is like travelling in a community bus, which is shared across its travellers, paying only for their usage/journey and travelling when needed.”

Kevin Scott-Cowell, CEO of 8×8 Solutions

“Cloud computing means you can quickly and easily get the apps you want by downloading them over the Internet.”

Flaviu Radulescu, CEO, Bigstep

“Cloud computing means miles and miles of information, like the biggest library in the world, all stored in space instead of your computer and you can look at that information from a computer or phone wherever you are in the world.”

Annrai O’Toole, CTO Europe, Workday

“Think of the cloud as a big imaginary box in the sky which can hold all of your important things, so you can get to them whenever you like.”

Chris Bunch, head of platforms at Cloudreach

“Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, it allows you to do awesome things – anywhere in the world – that you couldn’t do with your normal laptop, phone or tablet. Guess what…you’re already using it!”

Ian van Reenen, CTO and co-founder of CentraStage

“Cloud Computing is about making computing simple. Just like a water tap saves people travelling to a well to access clean water, Cloud Computing helps people access computing quickly and with the minimum of fuss.”

Read more: What is AWS?

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